Rexburg air show offers high-flying stunts Saturday

Two L19 Bird Dogs and a PT17 Stearman fly in formation during media day Thursday above the Legacy Flight Museum in Rexburg. Pat Sutphin /

REXBURG —The Upper Valley will turn skyward Saturday as a cadre of veteran stunt pilots attempt to wow audiences at the Legacy Flight Museum’s biennial air show.

Eight pilots from around the country will perform a variety of maneuvers, flying a collection of stunt planes and vintage military aircraft.

“We’ve got world class aerobatic acts that will be here and it’s going to be amazing,” pilot John Bagley said. “Four to five hours of excitement with something happening all the time.”

Bagley, the founder of the Legacy Flight Museum, created the show. It has been a regular event in Rexburg for a good portion of two decades.

One of the more spectacular acts will be performed by Kent Pietsch, of Pietsch Air Shows, N.D. He will attempt to land his “Jelly Belly” aircraft on a platform mounted on a moving truck.

Ryland “Buck” Roetman of Wild Horse Aviation, in Sharpsburg, Ga., will make his second appearance at the air show. But it will be his first time flying in it. Two years ago, Roetman crashed his stunt plane into the Rexburg golf course while practicing for the show. The plane was a complete loss, but he walked away with minor injuries.

Despite the accident, the professional stuntman said he was flying “upside down” again within a week.

Roetman is more than ready for Saturday’s show.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve got no hesitation whatsoever. I love it out here … the hospitality of the people is great.”

Rigby native Todd Therp is one of the few local pilots that regularly performs in the show. While he doesn’t consider himself a stunt pilot, he has been flying airplanes since high school.

“I’m a big fan of World War II vintage planes. They’ve fascinated me since I was a kid, especially the P-51 Mustang,” Therp said. “Having three of them here now is pretty neat. I mean when one flies over you, just gotta go look because there is no other sound like a Mustang.”

The Rexburg air show is a free family event and dedicated to veterans.

“If it weren’t for the World War II veterans you’d be speaking German,” Bagley said. “Our nation has forgotten how important they were and that’s why we do this.”

The event is sponsored by regional businesses. In addition to the aerobatics, there will be food vendors and those who attend also can visit the Legacy Flight Museum. The museum has a host of vintage airplanes, including a P-63 Kingcobra and a A-4 Skyhawk.

“We’re proud the museum can offer (the show) free of charge,” Therp said. “We have a lot of big families here and a lot of them don’t have a ton of money. This enables the whole family to come up, get some good entertainment … and we hope every now and then we get one of them hooked.”